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    Sister Dana sez, “I know I threatened to move to Canada if the election didn’t turn out.”

    Sister-Dana2By Sister Dana Van Iquity

    Sister Dana sez, “I know I threatened to move to Canada if the election didn’t turn out my way, but it turns out Thanksgiving is here, and I can’t do that in Canada. Oh hell, I can’t do ANYTHING in Canada. So I’ll just stay here in good ol’ EssEff and stick it out with the rest of you!”

    And speaking of the election rejection, I received an invitation from Chris Verdugo, Executive Director of the SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS that beautifully addressed my sad state, saying, “While the events of the last few days have left us rattled and dismayed, our intention this evening is to create space to come together. A time to acknowledge what is good and wonderful, to take comfort with one another while celebrating the success and vision of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Thank you for your commitment and support. See you tonight.” So, of course, I RSVP’ed at once. It was the annual “CRESCENDO KICKOFF” taking place at a new venue to me, Tank18, 1345 Howard Street. There I joined other sad, shocked, sorrowful lovers of music for a healing. At the event, Verdugo pointed out how another occasion of shock and sadness had brought out the SF Gay Men’s Chorus to the steps of City Hall to help heal us after the horrible murder of gay activist Supervisor Harvey Milk in the Chorus’ very first public performance. He noted we queers have been fighting for over 50 years, and we will continue to fight for civil rights. And sing all the way! He said the funds raised for SFGMC would help them travel the country bringing the joy of gay men singing and healing hearts. The 11th annual “Crescendo” fundraiser will be a dinner on Sunday, March 12. Longtime Chorus member and former board chair Michael Tate introduced 20 other members to sing Backstreet Boys‘ “Larger Than Life,” with the very apropos lyrics: “All you people can’t you see, can’t you see/How your love’s affecting our reality/Every time we’re down/You can make it right!” They followed with the hilarious “If You Were Gay, But I’m Not Gay” from the musical Avenue Q. Their next offering was a medley of Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons with “Can’t Take My Eyes off You,” “Sherry Baby,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Let’s Hang On.” And, finally, they went into a Christmas set—but I’m sorry not sorry, I just can’t. Not yet. Too soon. But I’ll be ready by December 9 and 10 for SFGMC with “BABES IN JOYLAND: DREAMING OF A PINK CHRISTMAS” at the Nourse Theater and their annual “HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS” on December 24 at the Castro Theatre. It has been announced that SFGMC will pursue a “RED STATE FREEDOM TOUR” in the summer of 2018. While the exact itinerary has not been determined, it is their plan to go on a whistle stop tour through those states where the LGBTQ community is struggling, and likely feeling even further marginalized after the election results.

    THE RUBBER WOMEN OF SAN FRANCISCO and WAGZ PACK at ARTSAVES LIVES GALLERY, 518 Castro Street, held a festive formal fundraiser benefitting both clubs, celebrating the arts and abundant talent within the Leather Community. The night was hosted by Mistress Eden Alexander, RWSF President. Starting with a Spanish dinner, guests were seated “parlour style” to enjoy classical dance, music, literature, and cinema all performed or produced by folks within the Leather community. Complimentary wine and beer were served by collared service submissives and sissy maids. Entertainment was provided by Kippy Marks on electronic violin with impressive originals; Damien Alvarez gave us a rousing flamenco dance demonstration—burning up the floor; Chelsea Poe provided an Independent Art Film Short Screening; Julia Austenfeld sang four 17th century opera arias, including some HandelGrace Towers executed dramatic modern lyrical dance to the Maya Angelou poem, “Still I Rise;” and Bella Vendetta closed out the evening with an art film short screening. Dress Code was Formal Leather and Fetishwear. Rubber was encouraged. Black tie was optional. Great fun was had by all.

    THE GRASS ROOTS GAY RIGHTS FOUNDATION concluded its 2016 fundraising season of events at a margarita party at Folsom Street Foundry. The Foundation produces the annual “REAL BAD” fundraising party that follows San Francisco’s world-renowned Folsom Street Fair, the REACH Pride T-Dance party during San Francisco Pride, and the RECOVERY T-Dance party that immediately follows the Castro Street Fair. The Grass Roots Gay Rights Foundation announced that its fundraising events and charitable contributions totaled $215,325, which was donated in full to six LGBT health and community service beneficiary organizations: Project Homeless Connect, HIV Story Project, Dolores Street Community Services, LGBTQ Connection, New Conservatory Theatre Center, and The Trevor Project.

    RAINBOW WORLD FUND and the GLBT HISTORICAL SOCIETY presented “FROM UGANDA WITH LOVE” at the historical society museum. There we met Richard Lusimbo, a chief witness in the case against anti-gay American pastor Scott Lively. Lusimbo spoke about the terror that the minister and his colleagues have unleashed against LGBTQ Ugandans, and discussed the case being heard in Federal Court charging Lively with committing crimes against humanity. Lusimbo gained international attention when he was outed in 2013 and 2014 by a Ugandan tabloid for being gay. His picture appeared on the cover of the tabloid Red Pepper, with the headline “Top Gays Speak Out: How I Became Homosexual.” After receiving repeated death threats, he had to leave his home and later leave the country to stay briefly in the United States. He has since returned to Uganda, and like other LGBTQ leaders there, he lives under constant threat of violence in his home country. But we were pleased to hear him speak at this event. Historical Society Executive Director Terry Beswick talked about “Vision 2020 to build a world class museum in San Francisco—when the final lease extension on their current museum runs out in four years. The next several months of this campaign will focus on building up the GLBT Historical Society’s finances to position them for the launch of a future capital campaign. Beswick introduced veteran gay activist Cleve Jonesfounder of the NAMES PROJECT AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT, who said, “This has been one hell of a week, and I am frightened and worried about the Trump administration regarding foreign policy and HIV/AIDS.” He stressed this is so much worse than the Reagan and Bush administrations. Jones brought forth Rainbow World Fund Executive Director Jeff Cotter who spoke about the RWF as the world’s first and only all-volunteer, LGBTQ-based humanitarian aid organization. He said their mission is to promote peace, unity, and hope by leading the LGBT movement in participating in humanitarian relief efforts. RWF has donated over $4.1 million of life-saving aid. Cotter introduced Lusimbo in a stirring presentation ending with Lusimbo’s optimistic conclusion, “Giving up is not an option, because we are not in this alone. There is hope.”

    CASTRO STREET ARTSAVESLIVES STUDIO AND GALLERY presented the “NOVEMBER SHOW OF ARTISTS & PERFORMERS at 518 Castro Street. Some of the artists included: Liam Peters, Bonita Cohn, Joel Hoyer, Martin Freeman, David York (who did a lovely portrait of Sister Dana, among many other fabulous pieces), Chuck Drees, Tim Burns, Bill Bowers, J B Higgins, Kate Rosenberger, Celia Beatts, Scarlet Astrid, Frank Pietronigro, Ed Terpening, Wesley Loesch, J-Wo, and  Cystal Karmanov. Performers included: Lynnee Breedlove, Scarlet Astrid, Ash Fisher, Kristine Wilson as emcee, and others. As always, free wine, beer, water, and food were provided, courtesy of gallery owner/artist Thomasina De Maio. It’s a no-commission gallery, and all proceeds always go to the artists.

    KREWE DE KINQUE, the Mardi Gras-based social club and fun fundraising group, held our November benefit for our “BAL MASQUE XIV” fund benefiting Homobiles at The Edge bar. This month’s Beer Bust, Show & Raffle was hosted by the fabulous MARY WANNAH! There were the usual raffles, but the Grand Prize was a THANKSGIVING TURKEY! We “Let the Good Times Roll,” or in N’Orleans French: “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”


    MACY’S presents “THE 27TH ANNUAL GREAT TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY IN SAN FRANCISCO ” featuring performances by singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc on Friday, November 25, 6 pm in Union Square Park, San Francisco. Macy’s will celebrate the start of the holiday season with the 27th Annual Great Tree Lighting Ceremony in Union Square. Following a series of musical performances by headliner Aloe Blacc and Bay Area choirs, the evening will culminate with the presentation of Macy’s annual gift to San Francisco—a beautiful, reusable, 83-foot tree decorated with more than 33,000 twinkling energy-efficient LED lights and 1,100 shining ornaments. Attendees can look forward to musical performances by singer-songwriter Blacc, known for hit songs “The Man,” “I Need a Dollar,” and “Wake Me Up.” Also performing on the stage will be the San Francisco Boys’ Chorus, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and the cast of She Loves Me from the San Francisco Playhouse.

    The annual “CASTRO TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY ” will be on Monday November 28 at 6 pm, presented by the CASTRO MERCHANTS. Located on the corner of Castro and 18th Street, in front of the Bank of America building, the festive holiday celebration will feature members of the SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS and the SAN FRANCISCO LESBIAN/GAY FREEDOM BAND singing and playing seasonal music. Donna Sachet—as always—will be the emcee, introducing various SF dignitaries. Of course we can expect Santa and his elves. There will also be the traditional blessing of the tree by Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. And be on the lookout for the special holiday silver/red bows on palm trees on the Market Street Median from Castro to Octavia Blvd.

    As many people say, “The holidays don’t begin until you’ve seen DONNA SACHET’S SONGS OF THE SEASON.” Songs of the Season, benefiting the AIDS EMERGENCY FUND, returns for the 24th year. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, November 28, 29, and 30, the seasonal show is at its new home at Halcyon, 314 11th Street. If you have never attended this amazing holiday cabaret show, you will be in for a real treat. The show promises you an evening filled with a variety of locally and internationally recognized and spirited entertainers—all determined to usher you into the joy and excitement of the holiday season.

    On November 30, the eve of WORLD AIDS DAY, the NATIONAL AIDS MEMORIAL will hold its 7th annual “LIGHT IN THE GROVE” fundraising gala from 6–9:30 pm. A sell-out every year, Light in the Grove draws more than 600 attendees in support of the Grove’s mission and programs. For one enchanting evening, the Grove, located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, is artistically illuminated to honor the sense of loss and to celebrate the spirit of hope. Guests experience a candlelight reflection at the Circle of Friends, and wander reflectively through the spectacularly-illuminated Redwood Grove to a warmly-lit tent. The evening includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and dinner with special musical and choreographed artistic performances.

    Join ACADEMY OF FRIENDS at their annual “HOLIDAY PARTY,” commemorate WORLD AIDS DAY, and help them support Bay Area HIV/AIDS service organizations. Enjoy live entertainment, festive cocktails, and bites prepared by the Williams-Sonoma chefs while shopping for all your holiday essentials. Through the generous support of their sponsor WILLIAMS-SONOMA UNION SQUARE, you’ll receive 20% off all purchases during the event. An AOF favorite includes the yummy Peppermint Bark which makes a great gift for friends, family, and work colleagues. Held on Thursday, December 1, 6:30–8:30 pm in the store at Williams-Sonoma Union Square, 340 Post Street.

    Sister Dana sez, “As a thankful queer, I prefer to call Thursday, November 24th, as thanksGAYing.  TGIG:  Thank  God  I‘m Gay!”